In another thrilling South African derby, it was the Toyota Cheetahs who emerged victorious over the Isuzu Southern Kings in their Guinness PRO14 Round 12 clash in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
While the Cheetahs showed their dominance in the first half, the Isuzu Southern Kings’ never-say-die character emerged in the second half as the Port Elizabeth-based side forged a comeback to only fall four points short, with the home side earning a 40-36 victory.
It was the visitors who scored the first points of the match when Isuzu Southern Kings kicker, Masixole Banda, slotted in a penalty just two minutes into the match.
It did not take long for the Cheetahs to respond as captain Shaun Venter opened the try-scoring with a five-pointer in the seventh minute of the match.
The home side extended their lead when flyhalf Tian Schoeman followed up with the second try for the Cheetahs in the 15th minute.
The Isuzu Southern Kings were brought down to 14 men when centre Meli Rokoua received a yellow card for a dangerous tackle in the 21st minute. The Cheetahs took made full use of the one-man advantage with a try from winger, William Small-Smith.
The Cheetahs received a yellow card of their own when hooker Joseph Dweba was sent to the sin-bin in the 32nd minute. A minute later, CJ Velleman scored the Isuzu Southern Kings’ opening try of the afternoon.
The teams went into the break with the Cheetahs enjoying a 19-10 lead.
It was again the Isuzu Southern Kings who got the first points on the scoreboard in the second half when the team’s leading try-scorer Yaw Penxe bolted over the tryline.
The Cheetahs replied with their bonus-point try in the 55th minute when former Isuzu Southern Kings fullback Malcolm Jaer crossed the whitewash. Another former Isuzu Southern Kings player, Junior Pokomela, extended the Cheetahs’ lead when he dotted down in the 62nd minute.
The visitors were dealt a major blow when Velleman was sent off with a red card for making contact with Pokomela’s head while the Cheetahs’ flanker scored.
The home side looked to keep the match out of the Isuzu Southern Kings’ reach when substitute Reinach Venter scored the sixth try of the match that gave the Cheetahs a 40-15 lead.
The Isuzu Southern Kings showed a spirited fightback for the remainder of the match as Tienie Burger (73rd minute), Alandre van Rooyen (76th minute) and Berton Klaasen (83rd minute) scored tries for the visitors.
However, it was too late as the Cheetahs maintained their lead to earn a 40-36 win.
While Isuzu Southern Kings captain, JC Astle, praised his charges for the fighting spirit, he also warned against the inconsistency and discipline of the side.
“Things are going a little bit better if you compare with the start we had to the year. But I still think at the moment we are blowing hot and cold – that is not what we want. We want to start well and play for a full 80 minutes – that is our goal,” said Astle after the match.
“Teams like the Cheetahs get a little sniff and they are like a runaway train, and that is what happened today. Luckily we managed to attempt to stop the train, and we came back well. So finding that full 80-minute performance is now key for us.
“We have been trying to rectify our discipline and penalty count. It’s a fine balance we are trying to find at the moment between penalties and yellow cards. It’s a fine balance that we are trying to find.”
- Tries: Shaun Venter, Tian Schoeman, William Small-Smith, Malcolm Jaer, Junior Pokomela, Reinach Venter
- Conversions: Tian Schoeman (5)
Isuzu Southern Kings:
- Tries: Cj Velleman, Yaw Penxe, Tienie Burger, Alandre Van Rooyen, Berton Klaasen
- Conversions: Masixole Banda (4)
- Penalty: Banda